Clarisse Louis Photo credit: golf.be
Home-favourite Clarisse Louis shot an impressive four-under round of 68 at the impressive Cleydael Golf & Country Club. The amateur hit five birdies and could have held a two-shot lead at the close but for bogey on the 18th. Despite dropping a shot at the last, the Belgian was elated to discover she was leading the tournament after the opening day’s play:
“Am I winning? I’m so happy about that. It’s the fifth time I’ve played a pro tournament but it’s always nice to be able to play one even if I’m still an amateur… it feels good but there are two days left! I’m not going to think about the fact that I’m leading. I’m Just going to try to stay on the fairway and the greens if the putt falls – then it’s good!”
The youngster once played the Cleydael course aged just twelve, and looked very much at home in front of the Aarteselaar crowd. Despite a few wayward irons into the green, the college student scrambled superbly to keep a clean card for much of the round. Off the tee, Louis found the fairway with relative ease setting up regular birdie opportunities throughout the round:
“I think it was my short game. I missed a lot of greens on the back nine but I was able to make pars so I was really happy about that. I just made one bogey on the 18th hole – I was a bit sad about that! But still, I’m so happy.”
A shot behind the leader at -3 are England’s Samantha Giles and Spanish youngster Marta Perez.
Giles led for much of the day, having been one of the early starters, and looked very comfortable after recently returning from a long injury lay-off. In her return at the Montauban Ladies Open last week, the 24-year-old finished T41 and was very pleased to be in contention at this week’s LET Access Series event:
“It feels great. I only played my first round of golf from being injured two weeks ago, so I’m just like whatever happens, happens. I’m just happy to be able to play again really.”
The Englishwoman also had a solitary bogey in an otherwise flawless round, and recognised the need to avoid the hazards which proved costly for much of the rest of the field on a tricky opening day at the Aarteselaar course.
“My short game was really good so I was happy with that today. Staying straight is the key, there’s a lot of OB (out of bounds) and water hazards out there, especially on the par fives. So, I think if you’re keeping the ball in play you’re doing quite well.”
With a later start tomorrow, Giles is wary of conditions with the heatwave across Europe looking set to have an effect on day two at Cleydael:
“Try and stay cool. It’s going to be really, really hot in the afternoon. It’s a half-past-one tee time or something like that so just try to stay in the shade. Just try and do the same. Because I haven’t played and really haven’t practiced or anything I’m just going to go out and see what happens and not put any pressure on myself.”
Spain’s Marta Perez joins Giles in a tie for second having birdied the last to card an impressive 69. Having played some stellar golf around the opening eighteen holes, the Spaniard felt aware of what is required to succeed at the Belfius Ladies Open and hopes to put that into practice heading into day two of the tournament:
“I think putting the ball in play, having the ball on the fairway. The greens are pretty small so it means if you’re on the green you have a birdie chance for sure. I think that was the key for a good round today and the rest of the week too.”
With the field braced for hot weather tomorrow, the leading trio will be delighted to have a score on the board with fatigue a possible factor heading into the closing two rounds. Louis and company will be looking for another low score on Friday, but will be aware of the players in the chasing pack with many of the leading contenders in the Race to La Largue standings poised to exploit any slip-ups at the Belgian LETAS event.